Home > CRM, Social CRM, technology, Twitter > Do Giraffes make noise?

Do Giraffes make noise?

When my kids were very young, we played a little game while on long car rides. ‘Let’s make different animal sounds ‘ We would joke with them that if the back seat were very quiet, that “there must be a giraffe in the car” as the misconception goes (more on that near the end), a giraffe does not make any notable sounds. It was also a bit of trick to quiet the car, as silence during a long trips is sacrosanct.

For modern businesses, customer silence is not a good sign. As the data points below suggest interaction and conversation are extremely important. My question to group is, how can/should SocialCRM facilitate a change? A study by the Strategic Planning Institute (I do not have access to the original work)  suggests the following:

  • The average business does not receive complaints from 96% of its unhappy customers;
  • At least 9 out of 10 non-complainers will not do business with the company again – they are gone forever;
  • Of the 4% of unhappy customers that do complain, 7 out of 10 will do business again with the company so long as their concern in handled properly, and 19 out of 20 if the grievance is dealt with swiftly.

Without the original study, I may need to take a couple ‘leaps of faith’ or rely upon others who have read the original study in order to push the conversation. We can therefore consider this more a of qualitative discussion, versus pure quantitative.

Kevin Lawrence (2000) author, speaker, and business building coach suggests “Businesses encounter real problems far more often because customers don’t complain, and the absence of customer complaints is usually a bad sign” as they don’t feel comfortable voicing their concerns or not enough is being done to obtain their feedback. He believes that “If people feel that they are being listened to, understood and valued, they will usually give you a second chance”. (reference)

The real question now is how can Social Media, or more importantly, the combination of Social Media and CRM – aka SocialCRM alter the basic behavior? I believe that it can, but the path the customer takes may not always be the path we would like. We used to have a saying at work, called “Brave behind email” This is a person, you know the type, often sending damning emails, full of finger pointing, emotion and a couple of loosely tied facts – oh, their boss was either copied, or worse BCC. But meet them face-to-face and they are as nice as can be, all smiles.

In the current world, the new (or alternative to) ‘brave behind email’ is Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or YouTube.  In the social realm people are more empowered (they feel it, they act it).  Does this empowerment remove the barrier to confrontation? My take is that while it does not remove the barrier, it does allow people to make their opinion known by a very vocal, but more indirect means – Social Media.

There is no doubt that for the 4%, good CRM practices, listening, acting quickly showing empathy will indeed help companies to continue to work with that 4%, but that is a small number. The real benefit is to get to the 96% and alter their thinking, how can SocialCRM help there? Do you think that within the 96% some subset are actually now going to be more vocal through indirect means? Giraffes do make noise, just not that many, and not that often.

I also owe a bit of thanks to John Moore for a ReTweet that got me thinking, thanks John.

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  1. August 4, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Nice post Mitch. I think the reason many customers would rather drop out than complain is that they really don’t feel that connected to the company to begin with. In their eyes the company is just a vendor, not a trusted partner or valued advocate who really understands the business. The relationship is transaction-based, and not people-based.

    If companies want to get their customers invested enough in the relationship to complain, they’ll have to put forth an effort to show customers that they really do care about them beyond the transaction. Social media can make that happen, but it can also alienate customers in record time and in record numbers if they don’t approach it the right way.

    You’ve got to use these new tools to demonstrate good old-fashioned things like showing real interest, listening carefully, and fully understanding what your customers are all about. Anything else will be a waste of time – yours and your customers.

    Thanks again for the great post!

  2. August 5, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Wow!!! :mrgreen:

    Thats an awesome post Mitch!

    I am personally guilty of having been a “brave behind the email” kind of person, but am nasty face-to-face too sometimes, especially when someone tries to tread over me. 😳 Ok Prem, chill … we are not discussing me. 😦

    Coming to the post, Mitch, you are talking about a different point in the spectrum of what Brent wrote about his own offline introvertedness but online rockstar persona. It is the anonymity of the digital medium that produces the false bravado of people & at the same time, since words constitute only 10% of the sentiment, a lot is missing in the tone, sentiment, etc. of the messages and thus fraught with misunderstandings.

    Anonymity & inability to communicate emotions – the two aspects of social digital media, which can make the giraffes make more noise, but still unable to convey their emotions/real intent to us.

    I side with Brent’s comment above too, but I guess that is the preventive aspect of the story. That and your point about getting more people to speak up on social media are complementary & should together be part of the social CRM strategy.

    Thank you for yet another awesome post Prof! 🙂

  3. mjayliebs
    August 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Brent and Prem,

    Thanks to both for your comments. I do agree that the answer lies in the ability of the company (ie, the strategy part) of truly engaging the customers during the sales cycle, maintaining the relationship in a ‘people-based’ manner (nice phrase Brent) not a pure transaction/electronic manner.

    This gives me some thoughts on where this is going…now if I we could only tie a nice bow around all this for everyone who takes part in the strategy and uses the system (whatever system it is), we would be all set.

  4. August 5, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Another issue is the question of value vs effort. The lower the cost of the product or its perceived value, and the greater the choices for substitution, the less likely a customer will make an effort to complain to the vendor.

    And that goes to Brent’s point. For many companies, complaining won’t necessarily change a blessed thing, and customers know or perceive that, so why waste the effort…especially if there’s no feeling of partnership. However, what many of these same folks will do is voice their dissatisfaction to their friends or networks who may, in turn, spread the news of that dissatisfaction.

    That’s where involvement in social media can help. If a company is participating, and yes monitoring social media channels where their customers hang out, then they have the opportunity to capture news of customer dissatisfaction. But that’s really only valuable if the company takes that information and acts on it.

    Let’s face it, though. Few companies will act on a single complaint. Nor should they. It’s some critical mass volume that will get their attention. Thus, it’s important to have the means to capture customer dissatisfaction and then measure it that benefits companies. From there comes the need to analyze the source of the problem to determine appropriate resolution of a corporate- or product-wide problem.

    And that’s where the social CRM comes into play. Call centers already have the means to capture individual issues which can then be rolled up into a database for analysis. It’s the folks out there talking to other folks and not the company — online social media among them — that needs capturing.

  5. August 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Sorry if this is a repeat but I’m not sure my first submission attempt went through….

    Another issue is the question of value vs effort. The lower the cost of the product or its perceived value, and the greater the choices for substitution, the less likely a customer will make an effort to complain to the vendor.

    And that goes to Brent’s point. For many companies, complaining won’t necessarily change a blessed thing, and customers know or perceive that, so why waste the effort…especially if there’s no feeling of partnership. However, what many of these same folks will do is voice their dissatisfaction to their friends or networks who may, in turn, spread the news of that dissatisfaction.

    That’s where involvement in social media can help. If a company is participating, and yes monitoring social media channels where their customers hang out, then they have the opportunity to capture news of customer dissatisfaction. But that’s really only valuable if the company takes that information and acts on it.

    Let’s face it, though. Few companies will act on a single complaint. Nor should they. It’s some critical mass volume that will get their attention. Thus, it’s important to have the means to capture customer dissatisfaction and then measure it that benefits companies. From there comes the need to analyze the source of the problem to determine appropriate resolution of a corporate- or product-wide problem.

    And that’s where the social CRM comes into play. Call centers already have the means to capture individual issues which can then be rolled up into a database for analysis. It’s the folks out there talking to other folks and not the company — online social media among them — that needs capturing.

  6. August 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Great post; I’m glad that I found your blog via @ekolsky.

    Just a note, the study was done by the Research Institute of America for the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. I read an article on it today and you can find it here:
    http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/news9836.html

    About using SocialCRM to engage customers, I agree with Brent. It’s really the other way around.

    Companies that never engaged their customers and established a “relationship” before are not likely to do it with SocialCRM. That is unless they hear the wake-up call.

    Unfortunately, they are more likely to just add it as a “cool” tool that will quickly make their true colours apparent,

    Companies that are already successful in building trust and a true relationship (even if they get on SocialCRM “late”) will be much more likely to succeed. Why?

    Because it’s always about people, not the technology. Technology is simply the enabler and too many lose site of that when discussing the business whether it be development, marketing, sales, operations, etc.

    Cheers
    Eric

  1. July 30, 2010 at 10:00 am
  2. July 30, 2010 at 10:25 am

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